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Grand Teton National Park Report

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The pristine, protected ecosystem of Grand Teton National Park (GRTE) is the ideal location to study the relationships between butterfly populations and the habitats on which these insects depend. Two montane meadow butterfly species, Parnassius clodius and Parnassius smintheus, were investigated in this study to identify patterns of habitat occupancy relating to variables across GRTE and into the surrounding territory of Bridger–Teton National Forest (BTNF). Population dynamics of P. clodius have been intensively studied by our research group over several consecutive years in one isolated population in Grand Teton National Park. However, little has been investigated regarding the Parnassian butterflies’ population range across the GRTE ecosystem. For this study, presence-absence butterfly surveys were conducted across 45 meadow sites in preferred habitat during the Parnassius flight season (June – July 2013). We found that P. clodius occupied 80% of the meadows surveyed, which was far greater than was originally predicted. P. smintheus, the more rare Parnassian butterfly in the GRTE ecosystem, was only found at 9% of the meadows surveyed. Understanding population ranges and habitat limits of these butterfly populations will be useful for managers and scientists within GRTE, and will assist conservation efforts for other related Parnassian species that are threatened or endangered worldwide due to habitat loss and climate change.